Lee Keundo is 52 years old. He was born in South Korea and arrived in Kyrgyzstan in 2000 as a volunteer to make taekwondo popular. Lee Keundo spent a year in Bishkek, nine — in Osh, and three — in Batken. Since 2013, he has been living in Kyzyl-Kiya. All this time he has been working with maximum dedication: he brings up young athletes and trains highly qualified coaches. Lee Keundo gave rise to many Kyrgyzstanis, directed them to the right path. While living in the Kyrgyz Republic, he learned the Kyrgyz and the Russian languages.
— What surprised you in Kyrgyzstan?
— The climate. It is milder than in Korea. It is humid in my homeland, but not here.
I was pleased with the kindness of the people, and I made friends, but not many. One of them is Ubaidula Tokhturbaev from the Taekwondo WT Academy. He helped me in a difficult moment, and since then we have enjoyed working together.
— What in Kyrgyzstan reminds you of your homeland?
— A lot. For example, history. There were a lot of wars in Kyrgyzstan like in Korea. The national music, mentality and even languages have much in common.
— What or whom do you miss here?
— I miss my three children. When we arrived here, they were small. They grew up, graduated from school in Kyrgyzstan and went to Korea to enter a university. I visit them once in a year or two.
I miss my friends and also nature. Korea is located on the peninsula, and, wherever you are, the sea is nearby. I like to swim and relax on the seashore.
To be aware of what is happening in Korea, I read the news on the Internet.
— Do you have a favorite place in Kyrgyzstan?
— It is Issyk-Kul. Although it is far from Kyzyl-Kiya, we go there every year. I like the nature reserve Arslanbob, Sary-Chelek lake...
Kyrgyzstan has a serious problem — there are not enough good, asphalted roads, especially in the south. It is not always easy to get to your favorite place.
— What national dishes do you like and what are you afraid to try?
— I love plov. Sometimes, I eat lagman, less often beshbarmak — it is cooked not very well in the south. It’s better in the north.
At first, my wife and I were surprised by the variety of culinary plants in the markets. Some of them have a strange aroma, and it was embarrassing. Then we got used to it.
— What has fascinated and disappointed you in close acquaintance with the local population?
— The pace of life here is calm, and the competition among the people is low. You can find common ground with many persons. Knowledge of the Kyrgyz language is a big advantage. It is more difficult in Korea in this regard. Life is more nervous there.
Disrespectful behavior and a rough manner of communication of some strangers on the street disappoint me: my wife and I are often laughed at and called the Chinese by the locals.
— What would you change in Kyrgyzstan?
— Culture of human behavior. Some judge a person by appearance only. My children had a hard time here. The elder son was not taken to school for a long time. And when he was enrolled, such an atmosphere was created there for him that he did not want to go there and often spent time in an Internet club. The younger son was in torment because he did not speak the Russian language. He could not answer the teacher’s questions. Once she called us to school and said that he was crazy. The daughter also suffered a great stress.
In the course of time, the children adapted. They left for Korea speaking three languages: their native, English and Russian.